Barry Final Season First Reviews: 'Wildly Hilarious' & 'Relentless,' Critics Say

Bill Hader's Emmy-winning dark comedy is back for its fourth and final season. Check out what the critics are saying about the return of HBO's hit series.

by | April 11, 2023 | Comments

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HBO’s hit dark comedy Barry — which was co-created by Bill Hader and Alec Berg — is back for its fourth and final season. The Emmy-winning series follows Barry Berkman (Hader), a depressed assassin in the midst of a mid-life crisis, who discovers a new lease on life in a subpar acting class. Each season has delved further into the chaos that follows Barry, and by the looks of things, the series will culminate in a tragic ending for all involved.

Last season left Barry frantically picking up the scraps of the life he had tried to create, while doing his best to put the murder of Detective Janet Moss (Paula Newsome), acting teacher Gene Cousineu’s (Henry Winkler) girlfriend, behind him. But that crime, and the many others he was involved with, reared its head and, with the help of Janet’s dad Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom), Cousineu got the best of Berkman and our anti-hero killer was finally put behind bars.

Also returning this season are Stephen Root’s disgruntled hitman handler Monroe Fuches, Sarah Goldberg’s emotionally exhausted Sally Reed, Anthony Carrigan’s lovable Chechen mobster NoHo Hank, and his new beau, Michael Irby’s Bolivian mob boss Cristobal Sifuentes. On top of starring, Hader stepped behind the camera to direct the entire season.

After viewing screeners of the first seven episodes of the new installment, here’s what critics are saying about the fourth and final season of HBO’s Barry.

How does it compare to previous seasons?

barry bill hader season 4 700

(Photo by Merrick Morton/HBO)

If Season Three proved there was more life in the concept than it appeared at first, Barry is still not a series built to run forever. Credit to Hader and Berg for recognizing this, and for making a final run of episodes(*) that feels true to the spirit and ideas that have typified Barry at its best. —Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

The final season of “Barry” is ultimately honest; honest about what it takes for people to change, about why it’s easier to fall back on familiar patterns, and about the ripple effects of each on friends, family, and society at large. —Ben Travers, IndieWire

Co-creators Hader and Alec Berg fully embrace the darkness of “dark comedy” in a way that even the previous seasons haven’t, delivering a relentless set of episodes that push Barry and everyone around him to their limits. —Belen Edwards, Mashable

How is Bill Hader’s performance?

(Photo by Merrick Morton/HBO)

As Barry has evolved from a sharp black comedy into an amusingly tormented tornado of misery and mania, Hader’s turn has grown uglier, more volatile, and live-wire, as have those from his supporting cast, who do arguably their finest work in these concluding chapters. —Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

In moments where he is at his most vulnerable, that is where Hader’s performance soars, carefully mixing the rage inside Barry while also tapping into the fabric of his soul, which seems innocent and drained after being manipulated for so many years by Fuches (Stephen Root) and a series of mob bosses. —Ryan McQuade, AwardsWatch

Performance-wise, Hader also continues to dig out every last crevice of the character of Barry, while still maintaining a curtain of mystery that may or may not be pulled aside by the final moments. —Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

It’s another virtuoso performance by Hader, even as his alter ego’s acting career is finished. —Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

What about the rest of the cast?

(Photo by Merrick Morton/HBO)

NoHo Hank’s own journey, meanwhile, features its own dramatic developments, with Anthony Corrigan continuing to shine in the role, especially when it comes to capturing the moments when Hank is at his most likable. Sarah Goldberg is also extraordinary, especially in later episodes that drag Sally to some grim places, while Henry Winkler continues to prove why he’s been nominated for an Emmy every season, finding a new depth to Gene as a character. —Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

Sally, well, Sally’s Season 4 journey is exquisite; a deft blend of admirable intentions and unlearned lessons that’s harnessed with palpable compassion by Goldberg. Her Emmy-worthy scenes pile up with each passing episode, from an emotional explosion in her mother’s passenger seat to a stunning sequence in the season’s second half. —Ben Travers, IndieWire

The Chechen not-so-bad boy enters bleak chambers of the soul we never thought he could access. There’s one extended sequence in which Carrigan gives his most varied performance yet, enhanced by sleight-of-hand camerawork for maximum dramatic impact. —Bob Strauss, TheWrap

Within his limited screen time, Root continues to deliver one of the most sinister villains in modern television, always finding a way to stay alive in their violent business, thus always being a lingering threat tattooed in the back of Barry’s brain. —Ryan McQuade, AwardsWatch

Barry’s cast has always been killer, but in Season 4, everyone ups their game. —Belen Edwards, Mashable

What about the writing and directing?

(Photo by Merrick Morton/HBO)

It’s like a mash-up of “No Country For Old Men” and “The Big Lebowski,” with a little “Fargo” thrown in for good measure. None of that is to say that “Barry” is cribbing from others. While Hader is clearly inspired by other filmmakers — all great filmmakers are — he makes “Barry” uniquely his own, and with this final season, he dials up the tension and shock factor to the point where nearly every episode will have you buzzing by the time the credits roll. —Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Hader directs every episode of the season, and he’s become a true auteur here, with a clear visual style that leans heavily on detail-rich backgrounds and long tracking shots. Not to mention his love of capturing an entire sequence inside one very wide frame, sequences which become objects of fascination after viewing, as one ponders just what it took to make them. —Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

Barry is Hader’s tour-de-force and it solidifies him as one of the most creative, well-versed actor/writer/directors in the business. But it also redefines the entire dramedy concept, proving just how deliciously dramatic the half-hour format can be. —Amber Dowling, Globe and Mail

Hader directs every episode this season, and it’s thrilling to see how much he’s grown as a filmmaker. He has a master’s command of blocking and pacing, each episode an exercise in prismatic stillness, often giving way to explosive violence. The smooth camerawork and locked-in compositions are downright painterly, further emphasizing each character’s inner turmoil. —Clint Worthington,

Helming all eight episodes, Hader solidifies his status as TV’s most accomplished director; his use of extended takes, shifting perspectives, and intricate tracking shots, camera movements, and choreography are remarkable for generating white-knuckle suspense and, as importantly, droll visual humor. —Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

What is the overall tone, this season?

(Photo by Merrick Morton/HBO)

The show’s ongoing joke that Barry can’t change what he is takes both subtler and more desperate turns this season, and if it winds up that a killer is all he ever really will be, at least we can see a credible alternative to that. —Bob Strauss, TheWrap

Barry may be more easily described as a dark comedy or dramedy, but these episodes are so tinged with horror, dread, and the bizarre that they escape classification. More than once, they’ll leave you questioning reality. —Belen Edwards, Mashable

Season 4 is bleak because it follows the same trajectory as the series to date. Season 4 is also surprising, thrilling, agonizing, and hysterical — though the laughs often come in unexpected bursts, with longer breaks between outbursts. —Ben Travers, IndieWire

In Season 4 they each experience their own version of breaking bad, as the show becomes as much a story about survival as it is about abuse, redemption and trauma. —Amber Dowling, Globe and Mail

Any final thoughts?

(Photo by Merrick Morton/HBO)

It’s more than a Hollywood satire, an antihero’s journey, or a morality play crossed with a comedy of errors. It’s “Barry,” and no matter how dark things get, I’ll miss it when it’s gone. —Ben Travers, IndieWire

The series has felt wholly original from the jump, even as it’s evolved from Hollywood satire into something much darker and deeper. And it is very much going out on its own terms with its incredible fourth and final season. —Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

Hader and company have laid the foundation for an existential reckoning of epic human proportions. And knowing these dim-bulb mobsters and narcissistic actors as well as we do, it should also be funny as hell. —Bob Strauss, TheWrap

Knowing that the end is nigh emboldens a final season to make huge swings from week to week, something which is a huge factor in making this season of the Bill Hader and Alex Berg-created series easily some of the best TV of the year. —Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

This sets the stage for the acclaimed HBO comedy-drama to go down a wildly hilarious yet emotionally cathartic path to a truly spectacular finale season, cementing its legacy as one of the greatest shows of the last century. —Ryan McQuade, AwardsWatch

Hader’s serio-comic HBO gem…remains a one-of-a-kind amalgam of introspective character study, deadpan L.A. crime odyssey, and caustic showbiz satire. —Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

Co-creators Hader and Alec Berg fully embrace the darkness of “dark comedy” in a way that even the previous seasons haven’t, delivering a relentless set of episodes that push Barry and everyone around him to their limits. —Belen Edwards, Mashable

The final season goes out with a bang. —Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

At one point in Season 4, Hank amusingly describes his and Cristobal’s romantic partnership as a “total unicorn situation,” and that’s a phrase that could really describe the show itself. There’s really nothing else out there like Barry, and, now that it’s ending, who knows if there ever will be again? —Robert Taylor, Collider

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